Weekend of Jazz: A Capital Idea
“This year’s [recently completed] program, which included the Jeff Hamilton Trio and Woody Herman Orchestra, was no different. The auditorium was filled for the Woody Herman show, and half of those in the crowd were teen-agers. During one piece (“Fanfare for the Common Man”), many of the kids were on their feet shouting for more! [Leader] Frank Tiberi was surprised to see the first few rows of the audience comprised of screaming teens, but played to the kids and joked with them about 78 rpm records and how things were done ‘in the old days.’ They may not be selling 78 rpm records any more, but we sold a lot of Jeff Hamilton and Woody Herman CDs during intermission!
“It has been like that year after year. People, especially the kids, come in skeptical and leave amazed. This has transformed the lives of many of our students including my own daughter. She plays flute in the band but is the vocalist for the Jazz band. She’s probably the only teen-ager to leave the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with a two-CD compilation of Frank Sinatra big-band tunes. I know that she owns every Diana Krall disc ever made, and sings the songs constantly. She lives for the 7 a.m. Jazz band rehearsals three times a week.
“We’re working with a regional performing arts advocacy group to add our school’s auditorium as a Jazz venue. The only place where Jazz is performed regularly around here is a nightclub, and kids can’t go there for shows. We hope that within the next few years Jazz programs (and especially big-band Jazz) will become a regular feature in our community.”
Beavercreek is always looking for more big bands high school, college or pro to take part in the school’s Jazz Weekend. If you’re interested, check out their web site, www.weekendofjazz.org
With friends like these . . .
Veteran saxophonist Ray Reed, who has been ailing recently, learned on March 16 that he has friends in high places when no less than five of Southern California’s leading big bands gathered at the Musicians Union Auditorium in Hollywood for a fund-raiser emceed by Chuck Niles of KKJZ Radio. Jack Nimitz, Ray’s friend and fellow saxophonist, helped arrange the event, which featured performances by the Steve Huffsteter, Buddy Childers and Carl Saunders Big Bands, drummer Frank Capp’s Juggernaut and composer / pianist Bob Florence’s Limited Edition. Reed, who once played lead alto for the Stan Kenton Orchestra and has logged more than twenty years with SuperSax, has a rare blood disease, Wegener Granulomatosis, which requires ongoing medical treatment. We’ve not had any word about attendance but hope the auditorium was packed to the rafters. There couldn’t have been a better show in town for any worthier cause.
Also in March . . .
Winthrop University in nearby Rock Hill, SC, held its first Jazz Discovery Festival on March 15, a day-long event that included a clinic and performance by the Marvin Stamm Quartet and an appearance by the school’s Jazz Ensemble with guests Pete BarenBregge, former director of the Airmen of Note, and trombonist Rick Simerly from Tennessee. Stamm, of course, is an excellent trumpeter, so I went with a trumpet-playing friend, Dean Betts, who was especially interested in the afternoon clinic. Stamm presided but there were comments by every member of the quartet (pianist Bill Mays, bassist Rufus Reid, drummer Ed Soph), either responding to questions or speaking extemporaneously. There were more generalizations than specifics, but the students seemed to enjoy it and must have gotten some advice they could take home with them. After dining with two new-found musician friends from Columbia, Dean and I took our seats for the concert, which was opened by the Winthrop ensemble and closed by Stamm’s quartet. I was disappointed that BarenBregge and Simerly weren’t given more solo space (and that BarenBregge, who’s best known on tenor, played only soprano sax, even though he took part in a hair-raising duel with Winthrop’s splendid lead alto, DeMarius Jackson). But the quartet was in A-1 form, especially Stamm, who blew much better than he had in the afternoon session. There were morning and early afternoon performances by a number of high school bands but Dean and I arrived too late to see any of them. Maybe next year, as Winthrop plans to make this an annual event.